Cher is a living legend. Reverently referred to as the 'Goddess of Pop', she has, over the course of a star-studded five decade stay in the spotlight won an Oscar, a Grammy, an emmy, three Golden Globes a Cannes Festival Award and a People's choice award for her work in film, music and television. Her Vegas show Cher At The Colosseum has been played at Caeser's Palace since 2008, and so it seems only natural that she should agree to appear as the club proprietor and headliner guiding Christina Aguilera's aspiring singer in Steven Antin's Burlesque. Cher recently sat down with Buzzine in Los Angeles for a chat about long hours, high heels and the importance of preserving your immaturity...
Emmanuel Itier: Director Steven Antin said they almost had to stalk you to get you in this movie...
Cher: Actually, they did.
EI: What made you finally say yes?
C: We were on the set when I finally said yes.
EI: Why the hesitation?
C: I didn't feel it. I wanted to sing in a film--that's what I really wanted to do--and I didn't quite feel that Tess was exactly the person that I thought she should be, and then little by little, she got better and better. I wanted to work with Stanley [Tucci], and I didn't really realize that I would have that much fun with everybody--as much fun as I did. I loved working with Peter [Gallagher]. He was great. All the girls were great. Christina [Aguilera] was great. So it became a lot more fun than I ever anticipated it would be. But I think it was a combination of stuff, and I did really think that John Patrick helped a lot of it, and I have to say that Steven and Clint [Culpepper] were really more open than any studio head I could imagine. Steve was kind of like, "I'm fine with this, try that. Do it one way or do it another way. Try what you think, you guys..." I think that was pretty amazing.
EI: Was part of your hesitation having not acted in a while?
C: I actually didn't think about acting ever again. I didn't think about it one way or another. It just hadn't happened and I thought, "Well, this is probably not going to happen anymore, and that's okay."
EI: You haven't done very many films in your career. Do you have any regrets about that?
C: I always knew I wouldn't do a lot of films. I started really late.
EI: You don't have any regrets?
C: If you've lived, if you're just a human being, you have regrets. I regret the other night--Cynthia McFadden, that interview. You just keep going. You can't lay on them. You just keep moving.
EI: Do you still prefer younger men to older men?
C: I kind of do, but now I'm so old that even old men are younger.
EI: The director on this film said that you were always extremely honest. Do you ever get into trouble for being so honest?
C: Yeah--Cynthia McFadden. I was totally fried.
EI: What happened?
C: I just answered every question honestly.
EI: And did it get you into any trouble?
C: Not yet. It's not airing.
EI: Why are you so fearless?
C: Because I'm stupid, because I should keep my mouth shut, and yet if someone asks me a question, I just answer it like some insane...I don't know. I've always been that way. I've always said what I've thought, and it's not a smart thing to do in this business.
EI: Doesn't that make you Cher?
C: Well yeah, but that's not always such a good thing.
EI: Stanley Tucci said you're the one that people walk up to and say, "When I was a kid, your movies..."
C: You don't have people coming up and going, "My grandmother loves you." I have people that come up to me that look really old and go, "I watched you when I was a little girl."
EI: How do you feel about that?
C: It makes me laugh, but I go, "God, you look so old."
EI: What was the worst part of this movie for you?
C: The worst part for me was long hours and high heels. That was hard for me. I really do have a bad foot, so it was really hard for me, and 16-hour days. That was hard for the young girls. The oldest one was maybe 30.
EI: I also heard that you tell a lot of dirty jokes...
C: I don't tell any dirty jokes.
EI: No, it was that you just say dirty things...
C: No. I just say fuck. I curse. I'm a curser. I never told a dirty joke. Who said that?
EI: Julianne Hough.
C: Julianne said that? That bitch. I never told a dirty joke.
EI: She was really sweet about it...
C: No. If I knew one, I would tell one, but I don't think I do. I can't even tell a good joke.
EI: She said you gave her a tip that she found very useful, but then she wouldn't share that...
C: Then maybe I won't either, but I did give her a tip that is very, very useful.
EI: Was it something you learned in your career?
C: Of course. It's something that's not a big deal. We were doing the bathroom scene and she was really emotional, but we were in wide shots so it was okay. I said, "Save it for your close-up because it's going to be a while until we get to your close-up. So don't go crazy right now. Save something for the close-up," which I thought was good advice. It's not don't act, but kind of wait until you've got that close-up. Don't lose it, because she's also a new actress and I could see that she really had the goods. I wanted to make sure she didn't blow it before it was time.
EI: That's a lovely scene...
C: She really is good. I think they cut around me, but she's really good.
EI: What does the word "diva" mean to you? Is it something positive?
C: It's not anything I ever give a thought to. It's just nothing. You can't go around thinking all that stuff. I joke about it in my show, but who goes around thinking those things? I'm worried about other things, and I'm not thinking about that. It just doesn't have any kind of meaning to me.
EI: But there's a positive meaning to it...
C: But you don't go around thinking about certain things. It's not that you think it's bad or good, but it just doesn't seem...I don't know. It's not in your brain. You're not worried about that or thinking about that or anything.
EI: You don't label yourself?
EI: What do you do on a day when you don't work?
C: Nothing exciting, nothing really that interesting. Just stuff.
EI: Do you cook?
C: I can cook.
EI: What's your specialty?
C: I don't like cooking unless I want to cook, but I can cook. Sonny [Bono] taught me how to cook, and he was the best cook in the world. I can make really a good Thanksgiving dinner, and anything Italian.
EI: Do you knit?
C: I don't knit. I used to needlepoint. When we were doing Silkwood, Meryl [Streep] was knitting a sweater for Don [Gummer] that was so awful. I was needlepointing Christmas stockings. I used to make jewelry. I've started making jewelry again because I enjoy it, but I just am doing stuff. I like to watch old movies. I like to watch Turner Classic Movies. I'm going to do The Night Owl. I'm going to go on in the middle of the night.
EI: On Letterman, you seemed very comfortable talking about your private life. Are you comfortable talking about that stuff?
C: I don't know. Obviously I'm okay because I did it, but how private was it?
EI: Talking about your son and your family and your life?
C: It's not like everyone in the universe… If you live in America, you'd have to live in a cave not to know about my life. It gets boring for me to keep talking about it, but it doesn't seem to be boring to other people.
EI: People seem to know a lot about you, but they don't really. You're an icon and a mystery to many people...
C: That's okay.
EI: Can you talk about creating this character? Did you do anything special?
C: No, I didn't do anything special because, look, I've been working. I looked at Stanley one day and I said, "You're not playing this gay. You're cheating." He went, "I know."
EI: Did you know Stanley before doing this film?
EI: You're such a youthful person, in looks and spirit. What keeps you young?
C: I'm just really immature.
EI: What makes you immature?
C: I don't know. I've just always been like this, and my mother is like this too. My mother is 84 and she's really immature. The older we get, we seem to get more and more immature. I have no idea. I keep thinking I'm going to act like a grown up woman someday, and the only thing I'm kind of responsible about is I take care of my family. The rest of it, I don't know how to act any different than I am. Stanley and I joked constantly, and he's much meaner than I am, always at my expense. He laughed at me constantly during this film. He made fun of me constantly. Actually, I did too. I'm fascinated by men with great senses of humor. That's a major thing for me. Stanley is really intelligent too, so we really laughed a lot and it really helped our working relationship because we could go from being funny off camera…and Stanley and I had, I think, the only serious moments too, in the film. That was fun too. I got to play lots of things with Stanley.
EI: The scene with your song was emotional and good. How was it for you?
C: I loved it. My friend Diane Warren, who wrote "Turn Back Time," wrote that song, and she wrote it specifically for that moment in the film, and I thought she just aced it. I like that kind of song, and it was a real challenge because the song was way too high for me. I somehow pulled it out of the air. I have no idea where those notes came from, but I really loved doing it. I had two songs, and I loved both of them. I thought they were both really good for the film. I thought they really advanced the story and were fun songs.
EI: When I saw this movie was coming out with you, Christina Aguilera, and Stanley, I thought it would be the gayest film of the year...
C: But when you saw it, did you think it was only going to appeal to gay guys?
C: I think that's true. I think young girls are going to like the film, and of course I'll pull in all the old women.
EI: If you could turn back time, which moment would you go back to?
C: I would be 40.
EI: Why 40?
C: Because it was just the most fun that I ever had.
EI: What kind of fun?
C: I was just having a really good time. I did three movies in a row, I did an album, my kids were still at home, and I had a fabulous boyfriend. How bad can that be?
EI: Will you make any more movies after this?
C: I don't know. I would like to. Stanley thinks he could direct me in a film. I'm not very directable, though.
EI: Was that makeup scene about your mother?
C: Yes. I wrote that scene about my mother and her friends. It's a true story. As a matter of fact, when my mother saw it, people were talking and she went, "Be quiet. This scene is about me."
'Burlesque' is in theaters now